Taking the Doctor for Granted

When I was younger, I always wondered about those band wives who didn't go to every.single.show their husband played. And when I became a band wife, (and Brian simultaneously became a band husband) I understood. You can hear your spouse's band anytime. Some band wives hear it ALL THE TIME since the band practices in your basement. You have household stuff to take care of, sometimes you're the babysitter when the spouse has to play. But admittedly, you also take that for granted. Especially when it's a relatively popular band that plays out often as is Dr Chow's Love Medicine.

Even before Brian joined the band, I took them for granted. They've gone through a couple of bass players, a few guitarists, dozens of Nuggets-style covers. They've played festivals, most of the city's venues, a few out of town venues, a few weddings and birthday parties. They were pretty much the house band at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg until they closed. They've done Trash Fest, Zappa Fest, and whatever Fest.

The constant in this whole thing has been he who many refer to Dr. Chow himself, frontman Frank Chandek. He's been around Riverwest for years, and for the past decade or so, he's been Dr Chow, belting out his "cure for the common blues" and fronting a revolving door of musicians to keep up with him. He and his wife Amber have been the unofficial MCs of Riverwest, stepping in to announce or judge a cart race, keep the crowd happy at a fundraiser, or "just" showing up for justice.

And in a couple of months, they'll be gone. They're moving out of town.... way out of town. And so it's time to eat up as much Chow as you possibly can. Last Saturday was one of the first "lasts" on the docket: the "Last Show at the Circle A." That's a particularly touching one, since so many great bands play there, and its also comfortably familiar, not only for Chow, not only for me, but for pretty much everybody who packed into that former shot-and-a-beer joint that starts its shows at 8 and ends them by 10ish to a) comply with their license and stay in the neighborhood and b) give us old farts a chance to see great music without having to stay up until a ungodly hour.

But it's also a place where genuinely "everybody knows your name." So over the years, Frank would introduce the band with a theme, instead of real names: Bond Villains, no-hitter pitchers, dead musicians, and any other set of alter egos that passed through that head of his. But at the Circle A the other night, he broke with this tradition and introduced everybody using their real name. As Amber confessed to Brian, that was the first moment she got "teared up." She wasn't the only one. I had a camera to hide behind. It was a moment that seemed to say, "No, we're serious. We really are leaving this town."  There was a finality to it that made me realize, wow, we really do take them for granted.

So they played through their set and included many (but not all) of the crowd pleasers like : "Mary Ann is Insane" and (in the encore) "When I Win The Lottery", and busted through a couple of Frank Zappa tunes, and brought out the trusted covers (with "Godzilla" in the encore too). They have a few more gigs to get through some of my favorites as well, but for now, I'm going to have to accept that I took these guys for granted just a little too much.

I was going to stop by the Riverwest Cafe to see the Mighty Deer Lick afterwards, but oh hell. They'll always be around.....


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